If you’d like to make your own special coffee drink at home, then this article’s going to be a good guide for you.
We’ll go through the main coffee types (or drinks, however you like to call them), how they’re each made, and what you can expect from them.
Before we start though, I have to tell you most of these require an espresso machine. Using anything else will result in a different drink.
I’m also going to add a table here so you can make your own drinks at home.
Easy to follow, and gives you the serving sizes as well. After you’re done reading the table you’ll find the rest of the article explaining each drink in more detail. (For mobile swipe left and right on the table)
1. Espresso (black coffee)
An espresso is possibly the only coffee drink in this world that almost doesn’t need an explanation. It’s the most famous coffee out there, and it’s what many people mean when they say ”coffee”.
Though coffee applies to any and all coffee drinks. But I digress.
A true espresso is made when there is that beautiful crema layer on the top of the drink. And espresso is a small drink, 1 ounce/30 ml to be exact.
It’s got 3 sizes, and sometimes you’l find these names instead of the usual ”espresso” listed on a menu. They are:
- Ristretto – the shortest, densest espresso there is. Half the water as a usual espresso, same amount of coffee. Results in a 0.5 oz/15 ml shot of espresso that’s going to make your teeth pop.
- Normale – the usual espresso, the 1 oz/30 ml serving size everyone knows and loves. Prepared by letting the water run for no more than 30 seconds.
- Lungo – a much longer espresso, double actually. Same amount of coffee, only the water amount is doubled. Results in a 2 oz/60 ml brew.
Espresso is what most other coffee drinks use, and it’s the standard espresso shot.
This kind of drink is a bit thicker, and you’ll find a lot of crema floating on the top. The following drinks are going to be mostly variations on this drink.
The drink is prepared by making a normal espresso shot, with a dollop of milk foam on top. It’s got the same kick as a regular espresso, but it’s a bit more subdued by the milk foam.
There are two versions of this drink. The first is just the espresso with a dollop or thin layer of milk foam. It’s what you’ll usually get if you just ask for a “macchiato”.
Do not confuse with mocha, which you’ll soon find out is a different story.
The other version is the latte macchiato, in which the espresso to milk foam ratio is reversed. So you cup, which will usually be a 6 oz/180 ml one, will be nearly full with milk foam, and one or two shots of espresso poured into the foam.
This creates a much milder macchiato, and it looks great in a glass cup.
Macchiato means spotted/marked in italian, so whichever way you make this drink you’re not very far from the meaning of the word. Though the original macchiato is espresso-heavy.
Another famous espresso drink, the cappuccino is a great way to showcase your latte art skills, if you have them.
This drink is usually made in a 5 oz/150 ml cup, with 1 shot of espresso (1 oz/30 ml) and almost the whole cup filled with steamed milk.
Leave the top half inch of the cup open to add some beautiful milk foam on top, and to create your latte art.
Some cappuccinos look dome-shaped since the baristas sometimes go heavy on the milk foam. I personally love that, though I need a spoon to manage the excess milk foam.
This is a very common drink, and very much loved, by everyone. You’ll find it in many versions, with all kinds of sauces added or other flavorings.
As long as the espresso to milk to foam ratio stays the same, then the drink is still a cappuccino. That ratio is 1:4:1 espresso, milk, and milk foam.
The end result is a smooth, velvety cup of coffee, that tones down the espresso severely but still lets it shine through a bit.
The bigger, nicer sister of the cappuccino. Also espresso based, but it’s got a much larger serving size. This means that you’re going to get a muck higher amount of milk, though not of milk foam.
It’s usually served in a 8 oz/240 ml glass, and you can see all the layers in your drink. The final half inch of the drink is dense milk foam, and this results in the milkiest coffee drink out there.
Lattes are about as common and loved as a cappuccino, and they’re often flavored in many ways.
The ratio used for this drink is 1:6:1 espresso to steamed milk to milk foam, and you can decorate the foam with anything you like, aside from the latte art.
Mocha is very much a play on cappuccino, but with chocolate syrup added for an extra delicious kick.
Now, mocha coffee is a great kind of coffee to start with if you’re feeling like coffee is possibly too harsh on its own.
You’ll need 1 part espresso, 1 part chocolate syrup, 3 parts steamed milk, and 1 part milk foam. Of course, you can make latte art with a mocha, since you’ve got the crema from the espresso.
Usually a mocha is decorated with a bit of ground cinnamon, or a sprinkling of cocoa powder.
You can also swap the milk foam on the top for some whipped cream, and decorate that with a bit of chocolate sauce as well.
We’re headed into dessert territory with this, so let’s get to the next drink.
6. Con panna
Cafe con panna is a shot of espresso, with a large dollop of whipped cream on top, instead of milk foam. In this respect it’s a lot like a macchiato, since it’s very espresso-heavy.
However the amount of whipped cream, and possible sugar to be added, will interfere with the caffeine a bit.
The ratio is 1:1 espresso to whipped cream, though I suppose adding a bit more whipped cream is not unheard of.
Decorating the cream with a bit of cinnamon or cocoa dusting could be done as well.
This results in a small 2 oz/ 60 ml drink, able to fill into a demitasse with ease.
Another dessert-type coffee drink, the cafe affogato is a summer favorite for many.
It’s basically a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream placed into an espresso cup, and then an espresso shot if poured over it.
This results in a small drink as well, under 5 oz/150 ml.
But the taste and texture resemble an iced latte, in that the drink ends up getting very cold because of the ice cream. And there’s no need to extra sugar, since the ice cream will take care of that.
For me this is one of the best summer versions of coffee, even better than cold brewed coffee. That’s just me though.
8. Flat white
A flat white is a shot of espresso, topped with steamed milk, but no milk foam at all.
So if we were using a regular cappuccino cup, like a 5 oz/150 ml one, we’d have 1:4 espresso to steamed milk, but no milk foam.
In a way, you’re having a flat white after you’re finished eating all the milk foam with the spoon form a cappuccino anyway, so…
This isn’t a very common drink, but it resembles the idea of cafe au lait very much.
Only the cafe au lait is more of a 1:1 coffee to milk ratio, and the coffee isn’t espresso. It’s either filter coffee or Moka coffee, or any other kind of coffee that’s easy to prepare at home. Like the French press, or even the Turkish coffee.
9. Americano (and long black)
The Americano and long black are very similar drinks, so similar in fact that I’m going to treat them as the same.
You’ll need one shot of espresso, and to that you’ll add hot water. You’re basically making your coffee ‘longer’, hence the long black name.
There’s a tale about the roots of the Americano.
Back in WW2 U.S. soldiers couldn’t really stomach the strong espresso in Italy, so they diluted it with hot water, to make it more like the drip-filter coffee they came to know back home.
This became a very popular drink, and remained as another version of making coffee.
Whether it’s the G.I.s being homesick, or the army rations being thin so they had to dilute the coffee to make enough for everyone, no one’s sure.
But it’s been regarded as a sort of historical, and somewhat patriotic coffee drink, so there’s that.
In terms of serving size, the Americano/long black can reach 5 oz/150 ml. Start with a shot of espresso, and add 4 times as much hot water.
Or, I guess you could brew an espresso shot so long that it ends up filling the whole 5 oz cup and still get a sort of Americano.
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10. Irish coffee
Irish coffee’s the kind of drink that’s both a dessert and a cocktail, so in this way it resembles coffee only because it contains some.
This is about the size of a cappuccino or a mocha, reaching 5 oz/150 ml, sometimes a bit domed.
It’s served in a glass cup, so you can better see the beautiful layers of this drink.
Start with 2 regular shots of espresso (so 2 oz/60 ml), and to that add half as much whiskey. Stir a teaspoon of sugar into the whole drink, making sure it’s very well dissolved.
Then, top with fresh whipped cream to your heart’s content.
You’ll end up with a very hot, very sweet coffee drink that’s going to give you a very nice buzz. If you’re not okay with whiskey you can swap for brandy or cognac.
11. Iced cafe latte
The iced version of a cafe latte isn’t made with an espresso, usually. While it would sound like it makes sense to add hot espresso over ice cubes to cool it down, there’s a problem.
Your coffee will taste off, since liquids brewed hot are going to taste bland when cold.
So, you need cold brewed coffee.
In a tall, nice glass you’ll add one part coffee, 7 parts cold milk, and top everything with whipped cream. You should end up with a drink that fits into a 10 oz/300 ml cup, ice included.
The ice will dilute your drink as it melts, so make sure you offset that by either brewing your cold coffee extra strong, or making coffee ice cubes.
A frappe is always a funny drink to order. It’s funny to pronounce, and unfortunately it’s got no standard recipe.
It’s a large drink, as large as the iced latte we were talking about earlier. But, it’s not made with a shot of espresso usually.
You see, originally the frappe was invented in Greece during an instant coffee summit. There was instant coffee used instead of the espresso shot, and some milk added, everything over ice.
Then someone started replacing half the milk with vanilla ice cream and shaking everything in a shaker, then poring the resulting brew into an iced glass.
And then someone else used a shot of espresso instead of the instant coffee, added cold milk, ice, and topped everything with whipped cream.
Really, the frappe is a bit of a mess since no one can really decide which version is the ‘standard’.
I for one vote for the instant coffee version. It’s got more of a bitter taste, which is very much needed to contrast all the milk added. And I’ve always loved the versions that have ice cream shaken into the drink, just because it tastes much better.
All in all, you should end up with an iced drink that’s made almost entirely of cold ingredients.
You’re probably asking how a frappe is different from an iced latte.
It’s different because of the instant coffee, and because there’s more coffee in this drink than in an iced latte, so the coffee flavor is much stronger.
And it’s almost never sweetened.
Almost every coffee drink is made with a shot of espresso
You’ve probably noticed that almost every drink until the last two were based on espressos. That’s because commercial coffee drinks didn’t become popular until after the rise of the espresso machine.
Coffee could be made very fast, and changed up as the customer asked.
Any other kind of coffee brew isn’t as versatile, since they’re not as concentrated and they take up more space in your cup.
Making a latte with filter coffee would require a very large cup, if you were to use the necessary milk to coffee ratios, and get the same taste as with an espresso.
So if you’ve got an espresso machine, you can pat it on its head and thank it for its service.
If you don’t already own an espresso machine, I’ll leave you with a recommendation.
Not a ridiculously large machine, but one that’ll actually fit on your kitchen counter and you’ll easily learn how to handle it. And not the most expensive either, but rather one that’s both budget-friendly and comes as a nice package along with a milk frother and capsules.
I think the added milk frother is going to be a beautiful addition, since so many of the drinks we discussed have some form of steamed milk or milk foam.
It’s a capsule machine, and you get a nice welcome kit with several flavors when you purchase it. You’ll be able to try new coffee types as you go, and I think that’s quite a steal.
The heat up time is short, 25 seconds. And the water pressure is 19 bars.
You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well.
I hope this article’s made things much clearer for you, and how to make all these drinks. I know I was baffled when I was looking at cafe menus, since I didn’t know what all the drinks were.
And I didn’t feel very adventurous to try all of them, for fear I might not like them. So I was stuck drinking lattes and frappes all the time, because they were the only two drinks I knew and liked.
They’re still my favorites, but in time I made the effort to try every other coffee, and this article was partly a result of my personal experience in cafes.
If you want to know more about coffee or tea, feel free to check the related articles below. Who knows what else you might find ?